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Glee s2e2 review: “Britney/Brittany”

REVIEWS - TV

Whoops, Glee did another single-artist episode. But is it a mistake..?

Glee!

First thing’s first: YAY!! THE BRITTANY EPISODE!!!

Ahem... now that’s out of the way.

About a month ago, I saw the name of tonight’s episode and was immediately jazzed - my favorite character would be getting her Day in the Limelight. My joy was instantly dimmed three seconds later when I realized it would also be a Britney Spears tribute show.

So we’re doing this are we? This is gonna be a regular thing now, single artist episodes? Sigh...

I disagree with the idea of these “tribute episodes” unless they’re gonna do one for Queen. Madonna’s telefellation was sort of crass, but as the episode went on, there were moments that wound up among the show’s best and I ended up giving it a B+ and listing two of the numbers from it as part of the ten best. The GaGa/Kiss Propaganda Hour was particularly ridiculous, but had some genuine character moments that saved it.

That being said, we’ve gone from Madonna (a genuine legend) to Lady GaGa (who is talented and massive right now) to Britney Spears, a pop-cultural punch line. I understand that for these characters, Spears is a staple of their childhoods, her first single coming out when they were all about four and that she is probably one of the reasons many of them (and those portraying them) want to be performers, but does she really deserve to have an episode mostly to herself?

I’m not even talking about the shamble of her actual existence (which was sort of mentioned on the show), I’m concerned with her actual output as an entertainer. She can’t really sing, she was a better dancer but still nothing special and she wrote almost none of her own songs. Is this the stick by which importance is measured, or is it simply album sale figures and nostalgia?

The episode opens with Will trying to start a unit on Christopher Cross (“He discovered America,” sweet, simple Brittany informs us) only to be hijacked by Kurt’s shoehorny desire for the club to perform a Spears number at the homecoming assembly. Will immediately shuts him down on the basis of Ms. Spears not being a very good role-model before Brittany says more consecutive words that she has the whole run of the show.

Turns out her full name sounds kind of like “Britney Spears” and serves to remind her that she’ll never be as talented (though, at sixteen, she’s already more so) and she doesn’t want to perform one of her songs because she wants glee to remain a place where she can “escape the torment of Britney Spears.” And oh, if only we could have left it at that and had an episode that paid tribute to adult contemporary music from the late seventies/early eighties like Will wanted.

Afterwards, Will takes the issue to Emma for some reason I can’t identify. She tells him he’s too uptight, starting a tense conversation about how her boyfriend, Carl, has been getting her to loosen up; they even mixed green and red grapes - “madness, sheer madness!” The tiff is interrupted by the man himself, played by John Stamos, which could almost be an in-joke referencing Emma’s line from the third episode, "They say it takes more certainty than talent to be a star. I mean, look at John Stamos."


"Wow, two numbers in a row by Brittany. I can’t adequately judge her singing since she’s mimicking someone who always got by on Auto-tune, but maybe we’ll get a chance to hear her real voice at some point - probably before we’ll get to hear Mike’s"


Later, Artie interrupts a brewing fight between Finn and the fat thirty-year-olds on the football team who keep fucking with him, tearing his letterman jacket in half this time. As Coach Beitse watches from afar, Artie apologizes for getting Finn thrown off the team last week, sending the Fat Boys into a crisis of conscience: they want to beat up Finn, but they don’t want to hit Artie to get to him. Seriously? Were these guys not on the same team that wedged Artie into a port-o-john and wanted to tip it over?

When Emma says that Carl’s been having problems getting the school board to allow him to talk to the student body about oral hygiene, Will invites his rival to talk to the glee club. I was trying to figure out why he’d do this when Carl gave the kids a tablet to chew which would turn any plaque on their teeth blue, resulting in Rachel, Artie and Brittany needing serious trips to his office.

First up is Brittany, who, after being informed what a complete train wreck her mouth is, hallucinates tonight’s first musical number as she succumbs to Dr. Jesse’s molesting gas: “I’m a Slave 4 U.” Echoing Sue’s shot-for-shot remake of “Vogue,” Brittany gets not only her first solo, but the first time we’ve really heard her sing at all. Of course, the performance is all in her head and features our favorite Cheerio writhing about in several of Spears’ signature fetish-fuel outfits.

Britney Spears
Exhibit A: Britney Spears

Brittany S. Pierce
Exhibit B: Brittany S. Pierce

The next day, Brittany and Santana show up for a simultaneous procedure. Initially refusing Santana service on the grounds that she has perfect teeth, she badgers him into putting her under so she and Brittany can have a folie à deux-esque duet of Spears and Madonna’s “Me Against the Music” wherein tonight’s object of adulation materializes, the first of her hallucinatory appearances. Wow, two numbers in a row by Brittany. I can’t adequately judge her singing since she’s mimicking someone who always got by on Auto-tune, but maybe we’ll get a chance to hear her real voice at some point - probably before we’ll get to hear Mike’s.

With a bolstered confidence, Brittany demands to have every solo from now on, drawing confused stares and prompting Kurt to push again for a Spears song at the homecoming... thing. Will refuses again, more forcefully this time, and Kurt lashes out at him about being so uptight. Will sends him to the principal’s office and Kurt (in a skirt) goes without another word.

We jump straight to Will at Carl’s office, having it out over Emma. Will’s kind of a prick to him, but he keeps his cool, appealing to Will’s sense of fairness. Carl convinces him to back off unless Emma starts to actively pursue him again, then becomes the third character tonight to call him uptight and prescribes him a night guard for his tooth-grinding and some candy to learn to do something for no reason.

On his way out, Will runs into Rachel in the waiting room (doesn’t anybody go to Mercedes’ dad to get their teeth cleaned?), who gas-dreams herself into a remake of the “...Baby One More Time” music video with Spears as the teacher and Finn as her object of affection. I have no idea how thematically appropriate any of the songs so far have been since my ears fill with a strange static whenever they start, blocking out the lyrics and mysteriously clearing up when the numbers are over.

Rachel’s been having problems with Finn this week for the usual reasons: she’s a controlling, self-centered douchebag and he’s too dim to better-deal her. When she comes to school in her dream get-up, they have a conversation that’s not worth analyzing and ends with Rachel giving him her “blessing” to get back on the football team, if he can. After witnessing her new look, Jacob the Blogger-Jew offers to kill his parents and give Finn his house in trade.

Because Carl has one and Will misinterpreted his advice, our newly-impulsive glee coach went and bought himself a Corvette (this episode brought to you by Chevrolet - May the Best Car Win). This immediately results in the mildly confusing yet oddly satisfying scene of Terri tearing his ass apart. Sure, she’s neurotic and appeared out of nowhere (maybe she’s stalking him), but she’s also a momentary beacon of reason in a sea of randomness.

Back at glee club, Kurt just can’t let the dream die, but in a development that has nothing to do with anything other than giving Sue some lines, she interrupts the class or meeting or whatever the hell it is they’re doing to inform him she’s caught Jacob masturbating in the library to the thought of Rachel in a schoolgirl outfit. This proves to her how dangerous Britney Spears’ influence is, prompting her to ask if Nude Erections is performing a Spears number. Of course, Will says no, but this being the show where no one thinks before they say or do anything, Will decides he’s not only going to let them do “Toxic,” but he’s also going to perform it with them.


"They just undid a major plot thread from last week’s episode for no reason. Do the writers on this show even talk to each other?"


Spears shows up again in Artie’s fantasy, singing “Stronger” on the football field with the team as his backup dancers and intercut with him lifting progressively heavier weights before engaging in the idiotic idea he had last episode of being used as a battering ram. I can scarcely comprehend how absurd this is, but for some unexplained reason, Beiste agrees to it. I think this scene broke my brain a little. They just undid a major plot thread from last week’s episode for no reason. Do the writers on this show even talk to each other?

So the club does “Toxic” and while the performance itself was pretty good, with Brittany, Rachel and Will singing the leads, the scene happening around it was absurd. With Fat A.V. Girl and Blogger-Jew screaming and getting punched over grabbing the wrong ass, Sue pulls the fire alarm and the students run from the gym like they’ve never heard one before. Anyway, Sue claims to have been injured and I’m done talking about this now.

Quinn, in her only scene of the episode, tries to get back together with Finn since they’ve both returned to their previous levels of power. He doesn’t want to, since he’s in what passes for love with Rachel, even though she gave him an ultimatum: her or football. Turns out Rachel put Quinn up to it, though why she’d do her any favors is beyond me. This leads to Rachel closing out the show with a solo... again. I’m beginning to think she had it written into her contract that she has to sing at least two songs per episode and one has to be a solo, preferably at the end.

I’m tired of Rachel. I’m tired of Rachel and Finn as a couple sucking up screen time. I honestly stopped paying attention when the last number started. After the show, my girlfriend and I came up with seven or eight things off the tops of our heads that could have happened in place of another Rachel ballad, the best one being Emma singing “Oops!... I Did It Again” to Will while under the rapey-gas. Really, though, anything would’ve been better.

At least they kept Spears’ limp line readings short and her appearances were all limited to cameos in everyone’s hallucinations. So we’re clear, this is not clever and she ought to just not have been there at all. The episode was not a total loss and the good did actually make up for the bad in quality, though certainly not in quantity. What this hour did right (Brittany talking, Brittany dancing, good jokes) it did very right, but the bad (Rachel’s presence, Will’s lack of self-awareness) was so very bad.

Getting several Brittany-centric numbers and scenes (as though making up for lost time) as well as a healthy amount of good dialogue made this episode a touch better than last week’s but the goodwill generated by what worked last season is being squandered on gimmicky “tributes” and tired plots. If the magic is gone, I haven’t realized it yet, but I’m still hanging on for a couple plot developments I know are coming. Just try and keep me entertained while I wait, ok guys?

Grade: B- (I wanted to rank it lower, but I did enjoy it more than last week’s, so...)

Songs
“I’m a Slave 4 U”
“Me Against the Music”
“...Baby One More Time”
“Stronger”
“Toxic”
“The Only Exception” - Paramore

Random Observations

Brittany’s middle name - which she sometimes forgets, is “Susan.” Sue, as established in the first tribute episode, has a “subconscious tendency to always be desperately looking for someone” by that name.

Tribute episodes - Since this is apparently going to happen twice a season now, I’d be willing to bet five dollars that at some point, Fox is going to release a Blu-Ray set of just the tribute episodes with no extras.

John Stamos - doesn’t sing this episode, but I know he had a Broadway run as the Emcee in Cabaret and I just found out he was in the recent revival of Bye Bye Birdie, so it’s in the post, that much is for certain.

Chris Crocker - anyone remember this guy? Neither did I until Santana said, “Leave Brittany alone!” That was a good, semi-subtle joke.

“Me Against the Music” - Kurt, Puck, Tina, Finn, Rachel and Mercedes were in the background of the main dance sequence.

Brittany and Blogger-Jew - While Finn and Rachel fight in the foreground, Brittany’s stroking Jacob’s Jew-fro behind them. “Looks like a Jewish cloud.”

Rachel - Seriously, I think they want us to hate her.

Great Lines

Finn - How can you get caught between the moon and New York City? They’re like, a hundred miles apart.

Carl - (to Emma) Oh, I love that look of instant panic every time I try to change your routine - it’s adorable!

Brittany - I don’t brush my teeth; I rinse my mouth out with soda* after I eat. I was pretty sure Dr. Pepper was a dentist.

Brittany - (in the dentist’s chair) This room looks like the one on that spaceship where I got probed.
Carl
- So, Brittany, you uh... you have the worst teeth I’ve ever seen. You have cavities in every single tooth, that’s got to be some sort of record.
Brittany - Please don’t pull all my teeth. When I smile I’ll look like an adult baby, but with boobs.
Carl
- Alright, we’ll put you under a little general anesthesia - you won’t feel a thing.
Brittany
- Like roofies?
Carl
- (grins) Yeah, totally.**
Brittany
- (after waking up) I petted a snake.
Carl
- (grins again) Hmmm... rock on.***

Santana - (to Rachel) Hey, dwarf! Anyone ever tell you that you dress like one of the bait girls on To Catch a Predator?
Brittany
- Also, I’m more talented than you.

Finn - They’re personifying you!
Rachel
- Objectifying.
Finn - Whatever!

Santana - Well Rachel, congratulations. Normally you dress like the fantasy of a perverted Japanese businessman with a very dark, specific fetish, but I actually dig this look. (golf clap) Yaaay.

Sue - William, I realize you’re still mourning the loss of that bony, red-headed hominid you’re in love with; I understand. I also understand that you bought a brand-new car to impress her. You’re flailing, William! Now I’m secretly hoping it’s a midlife crisis, which means you’re halfway to an early death, affording me a blissful, demented convalescence spent peeing on your grave.

*Being they’re from Ohio, I’m pretty sure she should’ve said “pop.”

**That was a little creepy.

***Really creepy. I think he may be doing untoward things to the girls while they’re under.

Glee at Shadowlocked

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